2 Parkland Parents Are Running For Office, But Their Mission Goes Beyond MSD

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The parents of the students who were shot and killed in Parkland, Florida, don't want their children's lives to have been in vain — and two of them decided that it's their "duty to make sure these schools are safe." On Tuesday, Parkland parents Lori Alhadeff and Ryan Petty announced they would run for two Broward County School Board seats to bring a sense of security to the area.

As Politico reported, Alhadeff and Petty have criticized the current superintendent's discipline program, called PROMISE. The program was meant to give students a second chance, and the school district said that the Parkland shooter was referred to the program years earlier for a vandalism/destruction of property charge, The Sun-Sentinel reported, though it seems he never completed it.

While they didn't criticize the superintendent directly or blame the program for the shooting, the parents believe that there needs to be change to make schools safer. Seventeen people — 14 students and three staff members — were killed in the Feb. 14 shooting.

"My eyes were open that day and I decided I needed to be more involved in how issues like safety and security are handled at the district to make sure our students and teachers are safe," Petty told Politico. "Every child deserves to have a great education. But they have to feel safe. If they don’t feel safe, it’s really hard to learn."

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The two parents want to "represent parents all over the district who deserve to have their children come home to them every afternoon," Petty said. Alhadeff's daughter, Alyssa, and Petty's daughter, Alaina, were both 14 years old when they were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

But they want to make change beyond the Broward County School District, as well. "I want to do everything possible to make this school system a model that other districts will look and try to replicate," Alhadeff said.

Her vision includes physical changes to schools, like bulletproof doors and glass – "The shooter shot through the glass. He never actually entered the classroom," she said — as well as clearly marked areas in classrooms that designate where they would be safe from a shooter and first aid "stop-the-bleed" kits, Politico reported.

Outside of running for office, Alhadeff started a nonprofit called Make Schools Safe as another way to implement these potential changes. Rather than focusing on gun control, she told The New York Post she feels these are steps she can take to quickly make a difference because she doesn't want "Alyssa’s death to be in vain."

Beyond the physical changes, the parents have more conceptual change ideas, as well. They want more accountability and transparency — there was controversy over false information the school district had released — and they want to be part of the group that helps get laws in place. That's why they're running for office: to get things done at a local level, but also to create a system that serves as inspiration for the rest of the country.

"If I get elected to the school board, I can be part of making sure the law gets implemented. And that was as close to an ah-ha moment as I can tell you," Petty said. "I felt an obligation to work on this legislation to honor my daughter and make sure this never happens again."